Intergalactic showdown for Absolution

2011-08-19 13:05

Film: Cowboys &Aliens (UIP)

Director: Jon Favreau

Featuring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, Adam Beach and Keith Carradine

Rating: 8/10

The camera pans across the scrubland, a man sits up and looks around, dirty and disorientated he looks every bit the cowboy – the only thing out of place is a weird metal shackle around his arm.
The dirty cowboy is Daniel Craig.

He’s got no memory and a kick-ass attitude, which he takes with him to the town of Absolution.

A place about to have a close ­encounter of the intergalactic kind and the ­posse that is formed in ­response is worthy of an ­interplanetary ­showdown.

So opens the much-anticipated Cowboys & Aliens, which boasts an arsenal of great, really big ­movie guns.

It’s directed by Jon ­Favreau who put Iron Man on the cinematic map. It’s written by ­Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who are the pair of pens behind The Legend of Zorro, ­­Mission: Impossible, Transformers (all three), Eagle Eye and Star Trek.

Joining them is Damon Lindelof who wrote Lost, as well as Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby who ­co-wrote Iron Man, Children of Men and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Add to that the fact that Cowboys & Aliens comes from the same comic?book stable as Men in Black, and we ­haven’t even gotten to the ­producers yet – the giant in a room of big men is Steven ­Spielberg, then there’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer too.

Craig is Jake Lonergan though he doesn’t know that when he ­arrives in Absolution because he’s got amnesia.

What the audience learns quickly is that he’s someone with a quick draw and a killer ­instinct, which implies his relationship with the law is fast and loose.

Absolution is, like many Western towns, beholden to an iron-fisted property owner Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who provides most of the jobs and so his son thinks he can shoot up the place. Trouble is, no one tells Jake who the ­trigger-happy kid is, so he puts him in his place and falls foul of the Colonel.

But the usual spur-rattling, ­gun-slinging showdown never comes between Jake and the ­Colonel – instead they find themselves with a common enemy, an extra-terrestrial menace that ­kidnaps half the town.

With a ­rag-tag bunch of frontiersmen – as well as a boy (Noah Ringer), a dog and a woman who has her own reasons for joining (Olivia Wilde) – head into the Wild West with Jake and the Colonel to get their kinsfolk back.

So we have two blended genres – the Western and the alien invasion flick – to create the kind of whip-smart ­story that will delight cinephiles as James Bond and ­Indiana Jones tear a strip off the latest ­incarnation of Hollywood’s little green men.

It is also a source of great relief that the filmmakers decided the genre mash and heavyweight cast were enough to put bums on seats, so they decided to give the ubiquitous 3-D a miss.

Which means you can enjoy the film without having alien body parts and bullets flying at your head constantly.

Still, audiences will find they get more bang for their buck – and with a budget of about $163?million that’s a big, big bang.

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